Belmont Derby Picks 2024 | Belmont at the Big A (2024)

Aaron previews the 2024 Belmont Derby (G1) from Belmont at the Big A & gives his top win pick from Saturday’s featured horse race.

Can Legend of Time build upon his last-out Pennine Ridge Stakes (G2) victory with top international jockey William Buick coming in to ride for trainer Charlie Appleby?

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The press release:

Godolphin’s British homebred Legend of Time will look to double up on graded scores in Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational, a 1 3/16-mile outer turf test for sophom*ores each assigned 122 pounds, at Belmont at the Big A.

The Belmont Derby is slated as Race 6 on Saturday’s 11-race card which also features the Grade 1, $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational in Race 9, the Grade 2, $200,000 John A. Nerud in Race 8 and the Grade 3, $200,000 Dwyer in Race 2. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.

Trained by Charlie Appleby, the Sea The Stars colt overcame a bobbled start to rally from last-of-6 and win the nine-furlong Grade 2 Pennine Ridge here last out by a head over the pacesetting White Palomino with Royal Majesty 1 1/4-lengths back in third. The top-three finishers of the Pennine Ridge each received an automatic invite to Saturday’s rematch in the Belmont Derby.

With Hall of Famer Joel Rosario up in the Pennine Ridge, Legend of Time trailed early but advanced to third at the stretch call with a wall of rivals in front of him. Rosario persevered with his inside push into the stretch run and found a seam between Cable Ready and White Palomino inside the final sixteenth to get up and secure a head win in a final time of 1:47.73.

Legend of Time enjoyed a profitable winter at Meydan Racecourse, winning the seven-furlong Jumeirah Guineas Trial in January, the one-mile Jumeirah Guineas in February and the nine-furlong Jumeirah Classic in March.William Buick was aboard for the Meydan scores and returns to the irons here Saturday from the inside post.

Legend of Time made his stateside debut in the Grade 2 American Turf on the May 4 Kentucky Derby Day card with 156,710 fans in attendance at Churchill Downs where he pressed the pace and finished fifth in a race won by returning rival Trikari.

“Legend of Time has had his two starts there. It was a huge learning experience at Churchill. Obviously, hindsight is great, but the start on Kentucky Derby Day probably wasn’t ideal for him; very challenging,” Appleby said. “He took plenty of experience from it and then acquitted himself well there in the Pennine Ridge, which we know is a trial into this race. I feel he’s come forward again. He’s a horse who’s got the experience and I feel he’s got the class to be able to be a big player on Saturday.”

Bred in Great Britain by Lordship Stud and Sunderland Holding, Legend of Time was a $174,613 purchase at the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale and is out of the graded stakes-placed Danehill Dancer mare Kissable, who also produced Grade 1-placed Amandine.

Amerman Racing’s Kentucky homebred Endlessly [post 5, Umberto Rispoli] returns to turf following a ninth-place finish in his dirt debut in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Trained by Michael McCarthy, the Oscar Performance bay made all four juvenile starts traveling one-mile on turf led by Grade 3 wins in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf and Santa Anita Park’s Zuma Beach. He completed his 2-year-old campaign with an off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

McCarthy said Endlessly showed promise even before his 2 1/4-length debut score last July at Del Mar.

“He touted himself early on last summer that he was a horse bound for big things,” McCarthy said. “He showed up first time out winning very impressively and went on to annex that Del Mar Juvenile Turf and things just got progressively better from there. I was very bullish on him in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and we didn’t get the trip we planned on getting, but he has turned things around as a 3-year-old and has done nothing wrong.”

Juan Hernandez guided Endlessly through all four juvenile starts, but Umberto Rispoli has taken over for the 3-year-old campaign which started with a pair of nine-furlong synthetic starts, winning the El Camino Real Derby in February at Golden Gate ahead of a four-length win in the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks in March at Turfway Park.

McCarthy said that while Endlessly performed well enough on dirt in the Kentucky Derby, he is happy to bring the colt back to the turf.

“The Kentucky Derby was something the Amermans were bullish to give a try, so we did and the horse ran a respectable race. We’re looking to get back to his preferred surface now,” McCarthy said. “He’s a bigger, stronger horse as a 3-year-old. He’s got a very good mind on him. He knows how to win. Umberto suited him nicely the past few starts and we’re looking forward to sending the horse there and seeing what he’s capable of doing against the country’s best.”

Endlessly has worked back five times on dirt at Santa Anita since the Derby, including a five-furlong effort in 1:02.40 handily Saturday.

“The horse is training very well. It was another text book sort of a work for him on the weekend,” McCarthy said.

Endlessly, out of the winning Langfuhr mare Dream Fuhrever, has banked a field-best $707,200 through a 7-5-0-0 record. His third dam is Grade 3-placed Society Dream.

Amerman Racing will also be represented by the aforementioned Trikari [post 4, John Velazquez], another son of Oscar Performance, who rallied three-wide to capture the Grade 2 American Turf by 1 1/2-lengths over the McCarthy-trained Formidable Man.

Trikari, trained by Graham Motion, captured the American Turf at 47-1 odds but showed the result was no fluke with a close third in the Grade 3 Penn Mile last out on May 31 when a neck back of the victorious First World War.

Trikari left the outermost post 9 in the Penn Mile and attended a rapid pace but could not stave off the late bid of First World War, who nosed out the stalking Aspenite in a tight finish.

“He took the worst of it in every aspect of it. He had the worst draw, the worst trip – he got taken on early,” Motion said. “All things considered, I thought he ran very well and felt bad for him getting beat.”

Motion trained Trikari’s dam Dynamic Holiday, who won the 2011 Grade 3 Herecomesthebride going nine furlongs at Gulfstream Park.

“I don’t know that he’s going to stretch out. The dam certainly handled it – Oscar Performance is more of a miler – I really don’t know if that’s what he wants to do. He’s quite quick,” Motion said.

Dynamic Holiday, a full sister to stakes winner Cat’s Holiday, is also a half-sister to graded stakes-winners Varenka and Lift Up, as well as stakes winner Appealing Cat – all but Lift Up were trained by Motion.

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will be represented by James Bakke and Gerald Isbister’s White Palomino [post 2, Flavien Prat].

White Palomino, by Kitten’s Joy, graduated at second asking traveling the Belmont Derby distance over good going on April 6 at Keeneland. Last out, the ridgling set a moderate tempo in the Pennine Ridge when nailed late by Legend of Time.

White Palomino is out of the winning Flatter mare Wolf Gourmet, who is a half-sister to graded stakes-winner Cowboy Culture.

Rounding out a compact but talented field is Besilu Stables’ British-homebred Royal Majesty [post 3, Junior Alvarado], who closed well to finish third in the Pennine Ridge for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

The Frankel colt saved ground in fourth under returning rider Junior Alvarado down the backstretch. Alvarado attempted to tip Royal Majesty off the rail late in the turn but was pinned in by Triple Espresso until straightened away for the stretch run when the colt muscled his way out and showed good energy late to complete the trifecta.

Royal Majesty launched his career in October at Newmarket with Roger Varian before joining Mott for his sophom*ore campaign that kicked off with a late-closing maiden win in January traveling 1 1/16-miles over firm Gulfstream Park turf. He finished fourth in Gulfstream’s one-mile Listed Colonel Liam in March before taking a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Keeneland in April.

Royal Majesty is out of the Grade 1-winning Smart Strike mare Crown Queen – a half-sister to Hall of Famer Royal Delta.

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